By Nolan Storey, Community Member
An afternoon about a week ago I was strolling through Audubon Park. Many of us have strolled through the park without really noticing just how much people have influenced this environment. Ironically, I was escaping the concrete jungle of the city to walk in “nature.” This is an ironic idea because there is very little that is really natural about Audubon Park. Nearly everything in the park is manmade / developed.
The best example of this is the golf course. The chemical runoff from the fertilizers used on the course trickles down into the lagoon, polluting the water immensely. However, not all of the human activities and influences on the environment of Audubon Park are negative. The fountains that spray water into the air above the lagoon keep oxygen cycling through the pond and help keep the entire water body from becoming filled with detritus and thereby the water stays oxygenated and can support life (other than just the green algae growing on top of the water). The buildup of detritus at the bottom of the lagoon and the water becoming abiotic during the summer months are not just caused by human pollution from the golf course. There are natural causes as well.
One of the first things one is likely to notice on a walk through Audubon Park is that there is a very large number of ducks. These are whistling ducks, and they contribute to the buildup of detritus and waste within the lagoon more so than humans do. The combined wastes of these ducks, along with the chemical pollution from the golf course, has actually caused the Audubon Society to require the lagoon to be re-deepened with bulldozers every few decades.
The fact that the waste from the overpopulation of ducks causes more problems for the Audubon Park lagoon’s sustainability than the chemical run off from the golf course is a vital one to remember. It is vital because we as people can positively influence this lagoon. Granted, we created it, but we also help it sustain an otherwise unsustainable population of whistling ducks. Yet, we also pollute this lagoon (and thereby the ducks that drink from it) with runoff chemicals from the Audubon Park Golf Course. This is just a small example of how we as a species influence the world around us so significantly. In less than 200 years since the industrial revolution, out of the 4 billion years of our planet’s life time, we’ve influenced her tremendously.